CB | Liverpool band Stealing Sheep make complex indie (in its truest sense) music that could be seen to be rooted in the variety of traditional folk rhythms and singing techniques that have more to do with the Ewan MacColl songbook than the troupe of sixties US folk/rock singer songwriters currently inspiring much of the current folk revival. It’s not so much Simon and Garfunkel as Pentangle cross bred with Young Marble Giants in mediaeval dress.
The band’s music has been compared to the Mediaeval Baebes, and while the rhythms and vocal arrangements of early song ‘I Am The Rain’ (sadly not included here), ‘The Garden’, and single ‘Shut Eye’ would suggest an interest in madrigals and the traditional singing in rounds, this is not the whole story.
‘Rearrange’, for example, follows in the footsteps of Kenickie by recycling the drum pattern to the Ronettes ‘Be My Baby’ and using it to add extra atmospherics to a brittle delicate modern indie song, and ‘Genevieve’ has more in common with Stereolab or late period Belle and Sebastian than with folk, what with its basic sixties groove.
Three of the most atmospheric songs on the album are opening track ‘The Garden’, which broods like a troupe of troubadours who’ve seen too much mud and rain of late, ‘Circles’, which builds magnificently and in its varied tempo is both hypnotic and transportive, and the elegant and complex ‘Bear Tracks’. All three songs make use of the albums clean and sparse production to showcase the bands ability to create mood and atmosphere with just three voices and the bare minimum of instrumentation. For a band from an area as distinctly urban as Liverpool, the music they make is distinctly pastoral. The catchy ‘Shark Song’ reveals the bands more down to earth side, and is an indie pop song, concerned with an expressed wariness towards sharks. The result is both highly imaginative and sweetly whimsical.
At just under forty minutes long, Into The Diamond Sun is the sound of a young band experimenting with sounds, lyrics and imagery. It’s the sound of musicians being left alone to formulate interesting new sounds from wide and diverse range of influences. There is folk and traditional influences, sixties pop, nineties indie, and echoes of years spent busking. In some ways Into The Diamond Sun feels naive and slightly incomplete, but this is part of its charm. The second album may well be slicker but it may also be more uniform and less imaginative, which would be a tragedy.